Oh, yeah, my progressive psyche is feeling much better now -- after watching the Republicans stumble through their convention while the Democrats soared in theirs.
Beforehand I'd worried that the G.O.P. could pull off a miracle: make Romney-Ryan appear both likable and sensible. Didn't happen.
On Friday, a day after the Dem convention closed, a poll was released showing Obama crushing Romney on likability.
Asked who was the more likable candidate, 52 percent of registered voters surveyed favored Obama compared to 29 percent for Romney. Among independents, Obama enjoyed a likability advantage of 50 percent to 22 percent for Romney.
Obama also widened his lead over Romney in categories of "represents America" (Obama 44 percent, Romney 37 percent), "tough enough for the job" (Obama 42 percent, Romney 37 percent) and "will protect American jobs" (Obama 40 percent, Romney 37 percent).
Being an avid reader of neuroscience books, my political optimism about the November election is strengthened by the oft-cited fact that emotion rules the roost when it comes to decision-making. People intuitively feel that such-and-such is preferable, then they come up with reasons to justify that decision.
So likability is important. It's an over-arching emotional attitude toward a candidate which frames particular pro and con arguments.
Romney hopes that this month's unemployment report will turn voters his way. Doubtful.
For one thing, the unemployment rate dropped from 8.3% to 8.1%. The reason has a lot to do with fewer people in the labor force looking for jobs, but that's a detail which won't matter much to most voters. For another, Nate Silver of Five Thirty Eight, my favorite electoral analyst, points out that the effect of jobs numbers on the presidential race is uncertain.
Politically, however, it is less certain that the report is going to matter that much. The unemployment rate declined for superficial reasons, which makes for a gentler headline for President Obama.
Perhaps more important, the report did not change the basic story of an economy that is experiencing subpar growth but is in recovery rather than recession.
In previous elections Silver was highly accurate in predicting outcomes. Currently he shows Obama as having an 80% chance of beating Romney. That percentage has gone up 6.7% since September 1. So it sure looks like the recent conventions put Democrats in a much better light than Republicans.
I really liked Michelle Obama's, Joe Biden's, and Barack Obama's speeches. I loved Bill Clinton's.
His was a masterpiece of wonkery mixed with humor, passion, solid reasoning, and Clinton's inimitable personal touch. Like commentators said, he makes a large convention hall speech feel like a kitchen table conversation.
The Obama campaign should take Clinton's speech and use it as the template for the political arguments they'll be making over the next two months. Obama's likability plus solid facts will be devastating to Romney-Ryan.
My favorite fact (which is absolutely true):
"Since 1961, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24. In those 52 years, our private economy produced 66 million private sector jobs. What's the jobs score? Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42."
That's mostly because they live in an economic fantasy world where tax cuts produce more revenue, trickle-down economics helps the middle class, and government intervention in the economy is always harmful.
Paul Krugman tells it like it is: Obama's policies have done a lot to help the American economy bounce back from the near-depression that resulted from eight years of Republican mismanagement. Come November I'm confident that voters won't put the reins of power back in the hands of the same people who got us into this mess.
Great line. But is the mess really getting cleaned up?
The answer, I would argue, is yes. The next four years are likely to be much better than the last four years — unless misguided policies create another mess.
...The policies we actually got were far from adequate. Debt relief, in particular, has been a bust — and you can argue that this was, in large part, because the Obama administration never took it seriously.
But, that said, Mr. Obama did push through policies — the auto bailout and the Recovery Act — that made the slump a lot less awful than it might have been. And despite Mitt Romney’s attempt to rewrite history on the bailout, the fact is that Republicans bitterly opposed both measures, as well as everything else the president has proposed.
So Bill Clinton basically had it right: For all the pain America has suffered on his watch, Mr. Obama can fairly claim to have helped the country get through a very bad patch, from which it is starting to emerge.